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Why, When, and How to Trademark Your Business Name

Creative Business
min read
In this article

Building a brand takes a heck of a lot of work. It’s about choosing a name, creating a logo, building a reputation, growing an audience, and so much more. It’s smart for you to want to protect that! 

That’s where that tiny little ‘R’ icon comes in - a trademark. Having recently trademarked the Maker & Moxie name, we’re talking all about what a trademark is, why you would register one, and how to get your hands on one if you decide that a trademark is the way to go for you. 

Trademarking your business name means that you’ve got it on lock and can create with more confidence, so let’s take a look at how it all works.

First: Trademark vs Copyright

A trademark is a name, logo or combination of both that is registered to you and protects those elements that identify your brand. 

Copyright protects the original works that you create, such as art and content, and doesn’t need to be registered. If it’s attached to your name in any way, then it’s automatically covered by copyright as soon as it’s published and shared with the world. 

Why Should You Register a Trademark? 

You have the exclusive right to use it

When you have a registered trademark, it means that nobody else can use that name or logo. It’s yours and yours alone! 

You have legal protection

If somebody does start using your trademarked name or logo, then you have the legal protection to stop them. You’ve put a lot of work into creating and building your brand - the last thing you want is for somebody to be able to take that and do whatever they want with it. 

It helps you stand out in the marketplace

By putting the trademark ‘R’ icon beside your business name, you’re showing people that you take your business seriously. They’ll be able to spot you in the crowd more easily and quickly know that you’re the legit business they’re looking for. 

It adds value to your brand

You can sell or license whatever you trademark, which makes your brand more valuable. If you want to sell your brand or create merchandise, trademarking gives you the power to do that. 

When Should You Register a Trademark? 

If you have a name (including your own) that you want to protect, prevent other people in your industry from using, and that identifies your business, then it’s a good idea to register a trademark. 

At Maker & Moxie, we wanted to protect what we knew was a great kickass name that we’d worked hard on. We wanted the ability to be able to do whatever we want with it in the future, and to ensure that we’re the only Maker & Moxie in the branding and design industry. 

How To Register a Trademark

We registered our trademark in New Zealand. The general process is similar across the world, but make sure you take into consideration that there might be slight differences depending on where you live. 

1. Search your trademark

Searching a database of trademarks lets you check whether anybody else has anything similar to the name you want to use. This will give you a good indication of whether you can actually start the trademarking process or whether you’ll need to go back to the drawing board because that name is common or taken. 

For us, we were able to get preliminary advice on whether our trademark was available to use without any issues. It’s an inexpensive part of the process that could save you paying the cost of the full registration before coming across a problem with your chosen name. 

2. Apply for your trademark

Once you’ve got the go ahead, you can put in the application for the name, logo or combination that you want to trademark. You also include which industries you want to be registered in, such as design, marketing or coaching. You can register in multiple categories, but will need to pay for each one. 

3. Wait for your trademark to be approved

Once your trademark registration is received, it’s published on a register for a window of time known as the trademark opposition period. During this time, anybody can see it and choose to fight the registration if it’s similar to their own trademark. 

If there are no disputes once this period of time has passed, then your trademark will be approved and you’ll receive a registration certificate for your trademark. Congratulations! 

With your trademark registration approved, you have the full protection of the law behind you and are ready to put that little ‘R’ icon next to everything! 

4. Register your trademark overseas

Now that you’ve registered your trademark in your country, you can choose to use that to apply overseas so that your business is protected in other countries as well. This is a bigger financial investment, so if you aren’t worried about going into overseas markets, then it may be better for you not to do this and just register it locally. 

Registering a trademark for your business is simpler and cheaper than you might think. All in all, the process cost us a couple of hundred dollars (NZ$). In our opinion, totally worth it for protection against potentially paying thousands down the track! 

Take a look at your business, where it’s at and where it’s going, and decide whether it’s time for a trademark for you too. If so, I can’t wait to see you framing those certificates and proudly displaying those ‘R’ icons for all to see! 

If you have questions or want to know more about the trademark process, come hang out in The Studio to chat to us and other creatives about our experiences!

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March 30, 2022




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